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PHOENIX -- As Valley temperatures start to climb going into summer, so do electricity bills.

Fortunately for those struggling to make ends meet, there is assistance available for those who need it through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is a federally-funded grant program run year-round.

This program's services are provided through various providers, one of which is the City of Phoenix.

LIHEAP is an income-eligibility program.

"Usually households that are at or below 200 percent of poverty, under the federal poverty guidelines," said Moises Gallegos, Deputy Human Services Director for the City of Phoenix. "They either come in after they received a shut-off notice or there are indicators that power will be shut-off, although they may come in when they are first having difficulty."

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security:

LIHEAP benefits are targeted to assist low-income households, particularly those with the lowest income, that pay a high proportion of their income for home energy. The household's energy burden in relation to their gross income is considered and priority points are given to those households that include a member of a vulnerable population which includes household members who are 60 years old and over, disabled and those households with children 5 years and under. The local Community Service Provider will be able to determine the amount of assistance that would be provided.

"Assistance is available to help households with paying delinquent energy bills," said Bryan Pahia in an email. "There is also crisis assistance for those who have a shut-off notice or are already out of service due to not having the ability to pay their utility bill.An eligible household can receive one regular LIHEAP assistance benefit in a 12-month period and one supplemental assistance benefit."

Those interested in applying for LIHEAP assistance can do so through their local agency which can be found at azdes.gov. Look under the Division of Aging and Adult Services.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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